Happy Retirement Paddy Smith

January 03, 2023

At the end of 2022, our colleague Paddy Smith retired from Simon Fraser University after 40 years of continuous employment. For the past 11 years, Paddy made Urban Studies his home department, but long before he moved in with us, he was active in co-creating and launching the Urban Studies Program.

Paddy’s career has been both colourful and inspiring. He grew up in rural Ontario, nurtured by a family that worked at both farming and railway operations – two of Canada’s fundamental occupations. Paddy himself worked on the railway, making beds, cleaning up and tending to passengers riding the Canadian National Railways trains between Toronto and Winnipeg. Train travel across Canada peaked in 1967, and Paddy learned a lot about people during his summer jobs aboard The Super Continental.

These train trips helped to pay for Paddy’s education, earning a BA and MA in Political Science from McMaster University. He then moved to England to obtain his PhD from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Paddy joined SFU in September 1982, after previously teaching at Acadia University and Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, and at the UK’s Open University.

At SFU, Paddy taught many courses in public administration, public policy, urban politics, and Canadian politics. He supervised and mentored scores of graduate students over the years in both Urban Studies and Political Science.

Paddy was also a serial academic entrepreneur, having led in the creation of the BC Political Studies Association, where he served as its first elected president in 1995. Paddy was also a driving force behind the B.C. Legislative Internship Program, serving many years on the advisory board helping to select interns each year, including 15 years as the program’s Academic Director. In this role, Paddy became a mentor for a generation of B.C.’s aspiring politicians and civil servants as they learned about policy making through direct engagement, working first within a civil service department and then embedded in one of the caucus offices of a party in the legislature.

Paddy’s research accomplishments are rich and varied. He has written books about Canada’s constitution, its political parties, and about our social welfare policies. Paddy also co-edited the Almanac of Canadian Politics, produced a book on comparative metropolitan governance, and most recently helped produce the ninth edition of a classic urban politics textbook Local Government in Canada.

Paddy is recognized within Urban Studies for his thoughtful and humane contributions to building our program. As Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies and Political Science, I hope that Paddy will have many chances to see the fruits of his labour in making SFU a storehouse of knowledge in urbanism. And I hope that he will like what he sees from us for many years to come.